Saturday, August 1, 2020

Accountability is Awesome (and why I've always avoided it) Part Two

Part Two (You can read part one here)
Thank you so much to those who reached out and admitted to a similar aversion to accountability - it's such a comfort to know I'm not alone in this. One friend observed how the isolation of the pandemic hadn't bothered them much; less interaction meant less expectations and responsibilities. (ie. accountability!) I can totally relate! What a relief it's been to be "stuck" at home 😏

However, now that I'm armed with the knowledge that accountability is THE success factor, I feel a responsibility to my idea (and the people it will potentially help) to seek out those who will both cheer me on and not let me off the hook when things get challenging. 

The one question I've been continually dwelling on for the duration of the pandemic has been, "What do I want my life to look like?" The question seemed to pop up everywhere I looked. It was something I'd never dared to really examine before. My people-pleasing, codependent, approval-addicted self was usually most concerned with what other people wanted my life to look like. 

I've experienced a lot of healing in the past few years, for which I'm extremely grateful. As I continue this journey of self-discovery, I find I'm finally at a place where I can (mostly) fearlessly declare what constitutes a beautiful life for me.  

In a word, I want peace. And love. And time. And space. And options. And freedom. 

I want time for quiet, study, reflection, contemplation, walking, reading, writing, making music. I want to love, to serve, to make a difference. I want to leave this world a little better than I found it. I want to make a peaceful, joyful, life-giving home for my family and friends. I want to give generously and gladly of my time, my talents and my treasure.

After much careful prayer, thought, discerning and discussion, I'm ready to take a step in the direction of my dreams. 

I've been an educator with a company called Norwex for the last five years, on a very casual, on-and-off basis. In a nutshell: Norwex is a direct sales company whose mission is to improve quality of life by reducing harmful chemicals in our homes, creating safe and effective cleaning and self-care products. ( Here's a short "Why Norwex" video if you're curious 😊) 

I joined as a desperate mother of young kids with undiagnosed bipolar disorder who couldn't keep a job but badly needed to produce some income. In addition to a solid mission and great products, the Norwex opportunity attracted me because I could be home with my boys and work around my other responsibilities. I found I was really good at some parts of the business, but really awful at others. I would do quite well for a bit, doing parties and making some money, but I ran screaming from the idea of following up with my customers, lest I annoy them and have them think poorly of me. (That's the people-pleasing, codependent, approval addiction part...) Then business would die down and I'd give up. Until the next time I was in a tight spot. And the cycle would repeat. 

I knew my motives were not pure. Sure, I wanted to help people, but it was mostly about the flexibility and the money. That's why I couldn't succeed long-term - my priorities were off. I was selfish and inconsistent. (And sick and tired and stressed and worried and fearful...)

I'm seeing things so differently now. I want to use this business to make a difference in the world. A real difference. I want it to start with love. I want everything I do to be done in love. I want love to overflow - love for God, for people, for creation, for myself. 

I believe in this mission. To provide people with options to take better care of their health and the health of the planet, and to do so through authentic relationships rather than pushy, impersonal sales, lines up with my core values. I really do believe that every home needs Norwex. I want to be a part of making that happen to help improve people's quality of life.

But there's more. I want to get these life-changing, health-saving, eco-conscious products into the hands of people who can't afford them. I plan to donate packages with our top five products to low-income families for every $3000 in sales, and seek to open a door to ongoing  relationship and support.

I attended Norwex's National Conference last weekend (online, of course). And I'm so glad I did! I heard story after inspirational story of how the Norwex business opportunity had changed countless lives. I caught a vision of how coming alongside women in difficult circumstances, mentoring them, supporting them and helping them succeed could turn everything around and give them a fighting chance to live the life they dream of. It thrills my soul to think of helping to change someone's life!

I was looking so hard for the answer to the life of my dreams, when it was right in front of me this whole time. I'm so excited to begin, but there's this relentless, piercing little voice that keeps whispering to my heart, "What if you haven't changed enough? What if you haven't got what it takes? What if this isn't what you're supposed to do next? What if people challenge you? What if you let your customers down? Or your team? Or your family? What if you can't do it? What if you fail again?" 

Friends, that's where you come in. I need people in my corner to encourage and to hold me accountable as I seek to accomplish my goals. I will be reaching out to some individuals in the next few days to find accountability partners to join me on this journey, but if you feel so led, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. We are so much better together! 

Thanks for hearing me out. The mere act of writing down my idea, knowing that you would read it, has both terrified and energized me. I once heard someone say that if your goals don't scare you a little, they're not big enough. I think we're there. 

Top 8 Steps to Chase your Dreams and Live Your Dream Life

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Accountability is Awesome (and why I've always avoided it)

Part One
I just had a major revelation as I was sitting down to write this post - mind blown! So excited to share it with you!!

 I've always actively avoided situations and relationships in which there might be even the slightest possibility of any degree of accountability. My greatest fear was that I would end up disappointing those to whom I was to give account, thus diminishing my worth in their eyes, and hence, my own. 

I wasn't actually aware of this, of course. All I knew was I preferred to work alone. Most everyone dreads group projects in school, but I feared them so much that I would generally lie my way out of them. I would fake sick, pretend I'd lost whatever it was I was supposed to be working on, or any other flavour of falsehood I could come up with. Because I was a good student and well-versed in the art of deception, I generally got away with it. 

I tended to keep people at arm's length, too. I had lots of friends, but I wouldn't allow any of them to get too close. I invariably focused on everyone else's issues, but would very rarely reveal any of my own. (To be fair, I believed for most of my life that I didn't have any issues - ha! Double ha! It makes me shake my head and smile a little to remember how oblivious I was...) 

I literally just figured out why I put so much effort into evading accountability. My estimation of my own worth was completely dependent upon what other people thought of me. If I let someone close enough to see the mess I knew I was, their view of me would plummet. By keeping my distance, I was able to craft my own little show in which I was the smart, talented, sweet, kind, helpful, caring star. 

I put on a show because I knew the truth: I was a complete disaster, utterly incapable of consistency in anything. But that was the bi-polar disorder talking!! It was that brain chemistry imbalance that caused the extreme ups and downs, making it next to impossible for me to be everything I thought I needed to be. But I didn't know it! 

Bipolar disorder is not an issue for me anymore (HALLELUJAH!). But those habits of isolation and fear and disguise have been seriously hard to shake. I've been making some progress towards more open and honest relationships, but it's very easy for me to slip back into my old ways when things start to get too hard or too real.  

All of this to say... I'm looking for some people to hold me accountable for an idea I have - a dream, really. It's way over the top; approaching ridiculous. But I discovered some stats about ideas and accountability that were extremely interesting.

According to current research, if I simply have an idea, there's a ten percent chance it will happen.
If I make a decision to make it happen, the likelihood of success goes up to twenty-five percent. If I choose a date, the odds of actually following through jump to forty percent. If I plan exactly how I'll see my idea through, my idea has a fifty percent chance.  If I have the courage to tell someone else about my idea, my success rate is sixty-five percent. Sounds good, right?

BUT, if I ask another person (or people) to hold me accountable for my action plan...  and they do it? A NINETY-FIVE PERCENT CHANCE that my wild idea will become a reality.  


Wow, I'm a little surprised at how even thinking about writing down my dream is freaking me out. I think I need a little more time before I share it with you. If I haven't posted the second half in a day or two, please get on my case. (Let's see how accurate that accountability study really is 😖)

Thank you for grace, my friends. I appreciate you all more than I can say. ❤

10 Signs of an Accountable Culture (Infographic)

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

My Shot

It's been a long, long time since I sat before this screen, hitting little buttons with letters on them to try to make sense of my life. I've missed it. I've missed you, my wonderful, diverse, supportive, encouraging blog-readers. Blogging has been a powerful means of connection and healing in my life over the past ten years, and I would be foolish to abandon it. I forgot for a little while, but then I remembered. So, I'm back. 😊

It's late June of 2020 - the year of Covid 19. Like most of the world, I've spent the last three months at home, hoping to contribute to the universal effort to flatten the curve. In times like these, when our busyness and the outward endeavours that typically identify us are stripped away, we're generally left with nowhere to hide from our very real, very flawed selves.

I don't know about you, but I haven't handled it very well. Oh, I've done a few things of value: connected more deeply with my family, started writing a novel, planted a garden, brushed up on my French, wrote some poetry... But a lot of my days were very slumpy, characterized by fear, indecision, lethargy and indulgence.

A little back story... Most of you are aware of the weight loss journey I embarked upon almost three years ago. Thanks to the science of Keto, I was able to lose eighty pounds. I reached my lowest weight since my teens a little over a year ago. Oh, how we celebrated! You all were so kind and cheered me on at each milestone. I so appreciated every word of encouragement I received from every one of you - you blessed me tremendously ❤

You also may have noticed (or not 😉) that I haven't mentioned it lately. Well, here's the plain, painfully-honest truth: I've gained back fifty pounds over the past fifteen months. It took a year for twenty to creep back; then three quarantine-months to pack on thirty more.

So many of you commended me for my "hard work". I tried to tell you then, and I'll try again now - Keto wasn't hard for me, for two reasons. As long as I stuck to my Keto-friendly list of foods, I could have as much as I wanted. And the rapid, practically-effortless weight loss easily kept me on the Keto straight-and-narrow when faced with cheesecake or pizza or any other high-carb goodies.

It was near the beginning of that third Keto-year, when the numbers on the scale started to go in the wrong direction, that I figured Keto wasn't working for me any more and that I should try to reintegrate back to "normal" eating (whatever that is...). That's when I discovered Keto had done absolutely nothing for me in terms of my life-long dysfunctional relationship with food.

Coincidentally (or not), it was right around this time when my life became extremely uncertain. I had no idea what was going to happen next, plan and contrive as I might (and did). All of a sudden, everything was up in the air, and there was no way to predict how it would all shake out.

I had the power to make myself feel better - at least temporarily. I had been practicing it for years. Eating delicious food and reading a good book never failed to insulate me against my worries and fears. If I couldn't control my unruly circumstances, I'd escape and create my own safe haven. Books to take me to another place and food to numb the pain - that was my life. I always maintained an active outer life, but this was my secret sanctuary.

It wasn't any different when I was Keto-ing; I just ate Keto food. When the anxiety ramped up, I just ate more, leading to the gradual weight-gain. I had been off Keto for about a month when Covid hit; that's when my dysfunction shifted into high gear. I won't go into details, but maybe you can imagine what it might look like for someone (who is not pregnant) to gain twenty-five pounds in two months? It wasn't pretty, folks.

That's when I decided to go back to Keto, since I wasn't willing to give up the comfort that food provided. But my fail-safe plan didn't work, either, and I picked up another five pounds before I realized I had a real problem on my hands.

And so, here I am. Finally able to see that I've never surrendered this part of my life to the One who has the power to help. (It really hit me today that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit...) I want to fuel my body with healthy, delicious, nourishing food and enjoy an occasional treat. I don't want to be at the mercy of my emotions, eating ridiculous amounts of nutritionally-void junk in order to self-medicate. I feel like this is a good place to start.

This is what I want this part of my life (heck, all the parts of my life!) to look like:

"Self-discipline is a skill. It's the ability to focus and overcome distractions. 
It involves acting according to what you know is right instead of how you feel
in the moment (perhaps tired or lazy or uneasy). It typically requires sacrificing
immediate pleasure and excitement for what matters most in life." 
(Marc and Angel) 

I've been slowly acquiring a measure of self-discipline in some other parts of my life; this one is my Everest. It will require identifying negative behaviours and practices, as well as where they came from and why, and replacing them with healthy, life-giving ones. (Not to mention lots of self-love... working on that, too ❤)

I've tried many, many times over the years to "fix" this. I thought I had finally done so with Keto. But it was like getting a hair cut to cure a headache - it only addressed the symptoms of my dysfunction - not the source. When I realized I had failed after having so much apparent success, I felt for a time that I had missed my shot, that this was it. The thought sickened me.

But the more I think about it, I don't think we ever just get one shot. I think there's a Grace that catches us when we fall and offers a lifetime of shots, of mulligans, of do-overs. Today, I'm grateful for that.

The real Joy 😊